Houskeeper Henry F.

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Henry F.

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  • Article
    Automated satellite remote sensing of giant kelp at the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
    (Public Library of Science, 2022-01-06) Houskeeper, Henry F. ; Rosenthal, Isaac S. ; Cavanaugh, Katherine C. ; Pawlak, Camille ; Trouille, Laura ; Byrnes, Jarrett E. K. ; Bell, Tom W. ; Cavanaugh, Kyle C.
    Giant kelp populations that support productive and diverse coastal ecosystems at temperate and subpolar latitudes of both hemispheres are vulnerable to changing climate conditions as well as direct human impacts. Observations of giant kelp forests are spatially and temporally uneven, with disproportionate coverage in the northern hemisphere, despite the size and comparable density of southern hemisphere kelp forests. Satellite imagery enables the mapping of existing and historical giant kelp populations in understudied regions, but automating the detection of giant kelp using satellite imagery requires approaches that are robust to the optical complexity of the shallow, nearshore environment. We present and compare two approaches for automating the detection of giant kelp in satellite datasets: one based on crowd sourcing of satellite imagery classifications and another based on a decision tree paired with a spectral unmixing algorithm (automated using Google Earth Engine). Both approaches are applied to satellite imagery (Landsat) of the Falkland Islands or Islas Malvinas (FLK), an archipelago in the southern Atlantic Ocean that supports expansive giant kelp ecosystems. The performance of each method is evaluated by comparing the automated classifications with a subset of expert-annotated imagery (8 images spanning the majority of our continuous timeseries, cumulatively covering over 2,700 km of coastline, and including all relevant sensors). Using the remote sensing approaches evaluated herein, we present the first continuous timeseries of giant kelp observations in the FLK region using Landsat imagery spanning over three decades. We do not detect evidence of long-term change in the FLK region, although we observe a recent decline in total canopy area from 2017–2021. Using a nitrate model based on nearby ocean state measurements obtained from ships and incorporating satellite sea surface temperature products, we find that the area of giant kelp forests in the FLK region is positively correlated with the nitrate content observed during the prior year. Our results indicate that giant kelp classifications using citizen science are approximately consistent with classifications based on a state-of-the-art automated spectral approach. Despite differences in accuracy and sensitivity, both approaches find high interannual variability that impedes the detection of potential long-term changes in giant kelp canopy area, although recent canopy area declines are notable and should continue to be monitored carefully.
  • Article
    Large-scale shift in the structure of a kelp forest ecosystem co-occurs with an epizootic and marine heatwave
    (Nature Research, 2021-03-05) McPherson, Meredith L. ; Finger, Dennis J. I. ; Houskeeper, Henry F. ; Bell, Tom W. ; Carr, Mark H. ; Rogers-Bennett, Laura ; Kudela, Raphael M.
    Climate change is responsible for increased frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme events, such as marine heatwaves (MHWs). Within eastern boundary current systems, MHWs have profound impacts on temperature-nutrient dynamics that drive primary productivity. Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) forests, a vital nearshore habitat, experienced unprecedented losses along 350 km of coastline in northern California beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2019. These losses have had devastating consequences to northern California communities, economies, and fisheries. Using a suite of in situ and satellite-derived data, we demonstrate that the abrupt ecosystem shift initiated by a multi-year MHW was preceded by declines in keystone predator population densities. We show strong evidence that northern California kelp forests, while temporally dynamic, were historically resilient to fluctuating environmental conditions, even in the absence of key top predators, but that a series of coupled environmental and biological shifts between 2014 and 2016 resulted in the formation of a persistent, altered ecosystem state with low primary productivity. Based on our findings, we recommend the implementation of ecosystem-based and adaptive management strategies, such as (1) monitoring the status of key ecosystem attributes: kelp distribution and abundance, and densities of sea urchins and their predators, (2) developing management responses to threshold levels of these attributes, and (3) creating quantitative restoration suitability indices for informing kelp restoration efforts.
  • Article
    Kelpwatch: a new visualization and analysis tool to explore kelp canopy dynamics reveals variable response to and recovery from marine heatwaves
    (Public Library of Science, 2023-03-23) Bell, Tom W. ; Cavanaugh, Kyle C. ; Saccomanno, Vienna R. ; Cavanaugh, Katherine C. ; Houskeeper, Henry F. ; Eddy, Norah ; Schuetzenmeister, Falk ; Rindlaub, Nathaniel ; Gleason, Mary
    Giant kelp and bull kelp forests are increasingly at risk from marine heatwave events, herbivore outbreaks, and the loss or alterations in the behavior of key herbivore predators. The dynamic floating canopy of these kelps is well-suited to study via satellite imagery, which provides high temporal and spatial resolution data of floating kelp canopy across the western United States and Mexico. However, the size and complexity of the satellite image dataset has made ecological analysis difficult for scientists and managers. To increase accessibility of this rich dataset, we created Kelpwatch, a web-based visualization and analysis tool. This tool allows researchers and managers to quantify kelp forest change in response to disturbances, assess historical trends, and allow for effective and actionable kelp forest management. Here, we demonstrate how Kelpwatch can be used to analyze long-term trends in kelp canopy across regions, quantify spatial variability in the response to and recovery from the 2014 to 2016 marine heatwave events, and provide a local analysis of kelp canopy status around the Monterey Peninsula, California. We found that 18.6% of regional sites displayed a significant trend in kelp canopy area over the past 38 years and that there was a latitudinal response to heatwave events for each kelp species. The recovery from heatwave events was more variable across space, with some local areas like Bahía Tortugas in Baja California Sur showing high recovery while kelp canopies around the Monterey Peninsula continued a slow decline and patchy recovery compared to the rest of the Central California region. Kelpwatch provides near real time spatial data and analysis support and makes complex earth observation data actionable for scientists and managers, which can help identify areas for research, monitoring, and management efforts.